NPR meltdown, and other matters

    Three times a year, I go on the air and beg listeners to contribute to WHYY. As tedious as I’m sure it is to listen to, I don’t mind the chore because I believe in what I’m selling.

    We were doing just fine in last fall’s fundraiser when NPR fired news analyst Juan Williams in the clumsiest way, and CEO Vivian Schiller compounded the problem with ill-considered remarks about Williams “and his psychiatrist.”

    Now, as Congressional Republicans seek to purge funding for public media from the federal budget, we have a new and bigger debacle: senior NPR fundraising executive Ron Schiller is caught on a secret video trashing Republicans and tea-partiers.

    The episode forces NPR chief Vivian Schiller to walk the plank.

    This is not helpful, but we’ll survive it, because those who listen to NPR’s news programs know they can count on deep, well-reported stories that don’t carry anybody’s ideological water. If you listened to their coverage of the Egyptian revolution, you had to be impressed.

    As one more example, I recommend David Folkenflik’s coverage of the current NPR nightmare. His piece for all Things Considered included tape of Tucker Carlson, founder of the conservative Daily Caller saying that the video caught Ron Schiller “living down to the conservatives’ stereotype of an NPR executive – sneering, arrogant, utterly dismissive of views not his own.”

    You can hear the piece and see more of NPR’s coverage here.

    (Carlson adds later in the report that he contributes to his local NPR station.)

    Also of interest…

    It seems the November elections didn’t just turn Congress more red. They spread plenty of green around both chambers as well.

    A new report by the Center for Responsive Politics finds that 60% of freshman U.S. Senators are millionaires, as are 40% of House newcomers.

    The Center calculates the median estimated wealth for Senate freshman at $3.96 million. The information comes from personal financial disclosure reports filed by lawmakers.

    Also, Jeanne Cummings has an interesting piece in Politico about the Democrats struggles to pay for their 2012 national convention. The problem is that President Obama has banned corporations and lobbyists from underwriting the bash.

    Cummings notes that in 2008, Congress gave $50 million earmarked for the political conventions, a grant not likely to be repeated.

    Blogging is a little light this week because I’m busy recording interviews for Fresh Air, which I will be hosting next week. I’ll have a remarkable story from a Chicago mobster who turned against his father, and an interview with actor/director Tom McCarthy, who played that annoying journalist who made stories up on The Wire. More on all that next week.

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